Saniyya Sidney
Saniyya Sidney, who rose to fame after starring in “Roots” and “American Horror Story” Season 6, is a force to be reckoned with in young Hollywood. Anthony Topman

Saniyya Sidney may be a relatively new name in Hollywood, but it’s one you’re going to be hearing for years to come. What the young actress lacks in age she more than makes up for in talent.

Fresh off the success of “American Horror Story” Season 6, Sidney has been selected to star in two films alongside some of the biggest names in the game. Cinephiles will have two opportunities to catch her on the big screen on Christmas day in “Fences” — a film helmed by Denzel Washington and Viola Davis — and in “Hidden Figures,” which stars “Empire” actress Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer.

While the average person may be left in awe of the star power on the cast of both films, for Sidney, it’s just another day on the job. Although she’s beyond being starstruck by her co-stars, the 10-year-old remains gracious and aware of the incredible opportunity her seemingly innate talent — and hard work on each and every set she steps foot on — has afforded her.

“It’s been really awesome to work with these great actors,” Sidney told International Business Times before revealing some of the nuggets of wisdom bestowed upon her by co-stars.

Denzel Washington told me to always ‘seek the truth.’ Janelle Monae told me to ‘stay humble, work hard and keep falling more in love with my craft.’ Viola Davis told me to always find a way to ‘stay honest in the moment’ and Kevin Hart said to me, ‘All this is fake. Don’t take the glitz seriously because it can all be taken away in a minute.’

Sidney was cast in “Fences” in April as the youngest child of Washington and Davis. The film, written by the late August Wilson and based on his play of the same name, centers around Troy Maxson’s (Washington) struggle to come to grips with his new station in life as a sanitation worker after failing to get his dreams of playing professional baseball off the ground due to his age. His frustrations manifest in his relationship with his son, Cory (Jovan Adepo), who also has dreams of making it big in sports. Sidney plays his sister Raynell, whom she says “is the light through the darkness” in the film.

“Fences,” Saniyya Sidney
Saniyya Sidney as Raynell Maxson in “Fences.” Paramount Pictures/“Fences”

Raynell’s relationship with her father is different than that of her brother. Sidney couldn’t give too much away about Raynell’s role in the Maxson family, telling IBT “that part of the story is left up to the audience.” She did, however, say she views her character as Troy’s opportunity to be better.

“[Troy] was a different dad with her than with her older brother,” Sidney explained. “I believe he didn’t fear her or try to control her — she was his second chance to be a better father.”

While they jury is still out on whether he’ll succeed in that mission, there’s one thing Sidney is certain of: moviegoers are going to find the story relatable. “I think [‘Fences’] will touch everyone,” she said. “It’s about love and the relationships that matter most to us.”

“Hidden Figures” is another film of Sidney’s that’s receiving high marks from critics. The movie takes place during what’s known as the space race — Russia and the United States were going head-to-head to see which country would be the first to launch a human into space. In doing so, NASA turned to a group of black female scientists previously overlooked. The “human computers,” as they came to be known, put their heads together and quickly climbed the ranks in the space program, but their success came at a price in their personal lives.

“Hidden Figures”
Saniyya Sidney (left) as Constance Johnson and Zani Jones Mbayise (right) as Kathy Johnson in “Hidden Figures.” 20th Century Fox/“Hidden Figures.”

Sidney plays Constance Johnson in “Hidden Figures,” the daughter of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), who’s forced to sacrifice time with her family because of her job. This is a struggle all too familiar to children of working women in America, where monetary success and job rankings often take precedent over other aspects of one’s life. Although she’s still a child, Sidney is well aware of the challenges women in high ranking professional positions face and the affect it has on their kids. She also knows that when something bigger than yourself is calling you, you run toward it.

“It’s a struggle when you only have one parent,” she told IBT. “You miss them when they are working and you can get stuck trying to figure things out on your own — you may wonder if their job is more important to them than you are, but when someone is born with a big calling like these women, it’s inspires us to find our own.”

In addition to being an important feminist tale, “Hidden Figures” sheds light on issues of race in the early 1960s. During that time, America was quite literally divided as segregation was legal. To see a group of women not only succeed, but take on high level positions within a major organization such as NASA is monumental, and Sidney is thrilled to be a part of sharing such a story.

“I hope ‘Hidden Figures’ teaches people not to count anyone out simply because of what they look like. These women helped bring us into space! Not many people know that, but they will now.”

Neither “Fences” nor “Hidden Figures” have hit theaters yet, but both are generating major buzz as award season approaches. Since its first screening in November, many have speculated that “Fences” and its actors could be among the nominees for the 2017 Oscars. Sidney is not currently named as a contender for the Oscars race, but given her career trajectory, it seems likely that her name will one day be listed.

Can’t get enough Saniyya Sidney? Check her out on Instagram for updates and be sure to catch her on the big screen Christmas day.